Monday, July 05, 2010

Homemade laundry soap

Just whipped up my first batch of homemade laundry soap since my daughter was born.  She's almost 19 months old.  I have no idea what took me so long - I have all the ingredients and it only takes about 10 minutes from start to finish! 

As I was pouring it into the container, I noticed the label on the side where I started recording the dates I made it so I could see how long a batch would last.  I've been recording dates since January 2005.  I was using it at least six months before that.  Six years, and I still love it! 

"Homemade" is a bit of a misnomer here.  It's really more like "home mixed".  You're not actually making anything here, you're just grating and combining.  This is wonderful stuff - you only need one tablespoon per load (yes, I said TABLESPOON), it cleans like a champ, and your clothes come out smelling like, well, like clean clothes.  None of those icky artificial fragrances.  I really don't like any of those (except the smell of Bounce, because it reminds me of my grandma, and I do occasionally use that on her old tablecloths).    A tablespoon of this soap and a half cup of vinegar in the rinse and you're good to go.  No other cleaners, fabric softeners, etc. required.  I use it for everything except diapers, because I heard that the fat in the soap can make the diapers repel liquid.  I've never experienced that with my towels, but I'd rather not find out the hard way with the diapers, you know?

The ingredients for this are really easy to find.  I've used two brands of soap - Zote and Fels Naptha.  Fels Naptha can be found at a lot of grocery stores (in the Portland area, both Fred Meyer and Winco carry it).  I prefer the scent of Zote, which can be easily found at Mexican markets.  Zote comes in two sizes - the white bar is larger and the pink bar is smaller.  Either one works. 

You'll also need washing soda, which is made by Arm and Hammer and comes in a yellow box, not to be confused with baking soda in the orange box.  Two totally different products.  The third ingredient is Borax, which can be found with the laundry products in a green box, under the "20-Mule-Team" label. 

If you're using the larger, white Zote bar:

1 bar Zote soap
2 cups washing soda
2 cups borax

If using the smaller, pink Zote OR Fels Naptha:

1 bar Zote or Fels Naptha
2 cups washing soda
2 cups borax

This is done most easily with a food processor.  First, cut the soap into chunks and then grate.  Dump the grated soap into a bowl, change out the grating blade for the chopping blade, put the soap back in, and whir until it is finely ground (if you don't have a food processor, just use your grater and then chop it into smaller pieces with a knife).

Dump the soap back into the bowl, add the washing soda and borax, and mix thoroughly.  Store in an airtight container and use one tablespoon per load.  Works in any washing temperature - I wash almost everything on cold and I've never had a problem with it dissolving. 

One batch used to last us six months.  Now that there are three of us, including a messy toddler, we'll see how long it lasts!

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